D-Day, 6 June 1944 was a victory of arms. But it was also a triumph for a different kind of operation: one of deceit, aimed at convincing the Nazis that Calais and Norway, not Normandy, were the targets of the invasion force. The deception involved every branch of Allied wartime intelligence. But at its heart was the "Double Cross System", a team of double agents controlled by the secret Twenty Committee. The key D-Day spies were just five in number, and one of the oddest military units ever assembled: a Peruvian playgirl, a Polish fighter pilot, a Serbian seducer, a wildly imaginative Spaniard, and a hysterical Frenchwoman. Their enterprise was saved from catastrophe by a shadowy sixth spy.
©2012 Ben Macintyre (P)2012 Soundings
"Great but too many doubles?....."
I really enjoyed McIntyre's first two books and although the information in them had appeared elsewhere he delivers the details in such a detailed and personable way that the book reads like a weird blend of a thriller combined with a news bulletin.
In the latest book he sketches the most complex and daring orchestration of wartime deception - all based on fact, newly released by MI5. Although the plot is rich and unbelievably complex, and although the daring of the spies is far greater than before, the book never reaches the intensity of its two predecessors. This could be that there is less focus on one small cast of characters and the canvas is bigger, more complex with less opportunity to understand the lives and motives of the main characters. At times the cast of characters is unwieldy because of the number of characters and the complexity of the charade they were developing.
As always one is looking forward to the epilogue to explain how the people ended up. The work they did was amazing and it affected the outcome of the war and therefore the course of world history. Ben M has written well, again, but with fewer main and subsidiary characters the book may have risen to the levels of its predecessors. Narration is brilliant with flawless accents applied consistently.
This is history more strange, engaging and full of unusual characters than you could hope for in a novel. And well told.
"Loved it! Great for war time spy enthusiasts!"
I loved the adventure in this book, although I do acknowledge what it says in some of the earlier reviews that the names can be confusing. Although the story doesn't flow as a traditional story, it doesn't matter. It weaves through the different threads of people's lives and it still amazes me the impact the double cross team had. I will definitely be listening to more books from this author.
"A lesser known area of the Second World War"
Most histories of the Second World War focus on the fighting forces, whether they be the war in the air, on land or at sea (whether on the surface or beneath the waves). Even books examining the intelligence angle tend to cover the excellent work done by Bletchley Park on cracking the German ciphers. By contrast, this fascinating and superbly written book looks at another angle of the intelligence war, that of the double agents working for the Allies and focusing on their role in the deception operation that did so much to make the D Day landings a success.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook and learned plenty of new information from it, despite having had an interest in this area of the Second World War for many years. I also enjoyed the postscript which covers what happened to the individuals after the War. The narrative is very well told and is clearly based on a significant amount of historical research. It is a fascinating story and shows yet again that the British approach to the War could be very innovative, some might say eccentric, and certainly far more successful than the Nazi way in comparable situations.
The narrator does a fine job with the narrative and brings the characters to life with a fine array of voices. To my mind this is a five star book and I can certainly recommend it to those with an interest in the War, whether with prior knowledge or coming new to this most interesting aspect of the intelligence story.
"A cracking tale"
If this was not a true tale, one would never credit it! This book is totally fascinating and captivating. A kaleidoscope of characters and the webs they wove. A brilliant tale; brilliantly told. I have listened to many audible books but I would rate this as one of the best. If you like 'stranger than fiction', with each page producing a yet more fascinating tale than the last, then this is for you. To cap it all, Michael Tudor Barnes reads with style, panache and with a firmly 'tongue in cheek' approach to the accents. Absolutely spiffing!
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